Mother Nature and Mental Battles

You know that Winnie the Pooh movie about the blustery day, where the characters are flying all over the place and such?

Am I really embarrassing myself right now? Probably.

Yea, that would be the perfect example of the weather in Seattle today.

There is a storm rolling in that has promised snow in the mountains and (possibly!) down in the main Seattle area. I love snow, and although I’m slightly horrified to try driving down the huge hill by my house with any amount of ice present, I appreciate the seasonality of falling snow.

Anyway, for now the day has just been filled with a bitter, blustery(there really isn’t a better word, thanks A.A. Milne) wind and ominous clouds overhead. This lead to some interesting elements during this morning’s run, and it got me thinking about all the weather variables involved in this sport—namely, in the winter.

So there I was at 6 am: laying in my warm bed, silencing my snooze alarm (for the second time), and listening to the whistling wind outside. Now, wind happens to be my LEAST favorite weather condition. It makes the cold colder, and the rain and snow much more unpleasant. Needless to say, running in the wind is not favorable for me .

Luckily, I was conscious enough to remember I really wanted to do a long run this morning, and I knew it would be much less likely to happen in the afternoon. So, clad in gloves, leggings, and a long sleeve tech shirt—away I went in the dark, cold, and blowing wind.

[An aside to lululemon: mark my words if I had a closet full of your fantastic RUN apparel, getting dressed for runs would be the best part of my day.]

Surprisingly, the only unpleasant part of my run was the strong headwind I faced during the first few miles. My running route follows the edge of a peninsula called Alki beach, and while 99% of the time I bask in how beautiful my training grounds are, this morning I felt quite the opposite. Ocean + wind+ cold= BRRRRRRR. The waves were surf-able(word?), and for anyone living in the area, you know that waves this big are rare. During this blast of headwind, I kept one optimistic thought in mind….tailwind on the way back, please oh please.

My wish was granted, and during the second half of the run, I did begin to recognize how beautiful the radical weather had made the surrounding area. The water looked magical, the sky was a gorgeous sunrise pink, yellow, and blue, and the clouds were smeared across the sky from the higher winds. Yes, even in compromised conditions, running can bring out the beauty in anything. I removed my headphones for the second half and enjoyed the sounds of the blowing trees, my steady breath, and my footsteps.

It’s always comforting for me to recognize how running can bring out an alternative perspective on a seemingly negative situation.

12 miles on the dot, and after some easy lifting/ab work at my gym, I was pretty pumped to jump in my warm shower and get my feet into some wool socks. Yes, I’m wearing two pairs right now—I have circulation issues.

Anyway, winter is indeed upon us—and for runners, this means a whole new strategy for our sport. I’m a little pitiful when it comes to proper weather-appropriate gear. Exhibit A: My gloves are the $2 Target kind that make your hands start to sweat within minutes of any physical exertion.

There are so many fancy cold weather remedies out there, and I get a bit overwhelmed with what I actually need. However, I am a big believer that less is typically more when it comes to running. Yes, in the winter you might be convinced after stepping outside that you need to be wearing sweatpants and a fleece, however in my experience you begin to warm up very quickly once you get going. Rarely have I regretted not wearing enough at the end of a run, and normally when I have layered, I end up removing something pretty quickly.

Running warms your core pretty quickly, and so while your ears and hands might stay cold for a bit, it’s a safe bet that although running shorts may seem unthinkable when you check the 6 am temperature, you’ll probably be happier by the end of those miles. A good rule of thumb: gloves, a hat, and warm socks will get you through any cold scenario. Seriously, you could probably be naked otherwise.

Awkward, kinda.

The hardest part of winter running, however, isn’t normally the actual running. Sure, sometimes there’s ice, snow, and the temperature isn’t ideal, however I’ve found that the mental part of running during these months is much more tolling than the actual act.

Personally, the darkness is the hardest part. Getting out of bed at 6 am when it’s bright and sunny outside is no problem for me during the summer; I pop right up with the enthusiasm of an annoying cartoon fairy, ready to sprinkle my day with sweat and happiness. Then, when daylight savings time hits and the thermometer drops, 6 am starts to feel a lottt earlier. I have to mentally pry myself out of bed in the winter for my usual morning workouts, and until I actual get them started a big part of me wants to scurry back to my pjs and a bowl of oatmeal.

I do appreciate the strengthening of my mental grit, because I feel like my dedication is truly tested when the conditions are less than favorable. I guess what I’m trying to say is that…at the end of the day, I’m thankful to have my commitment tested, because it helps me appreciate the rewards that much more.

I’d love to hear any mental tricks or helpful preparation for taking on winter running!! With a spring marathon in the works, my cold weather training is going to be interesting…

Long post, but I didn’t have time yesterday, so there’s excessive running thoughts stored in my head 🙂

Now, let’s see if I can talk BF into something warm and yummy for dinner….

Cheers!

rb

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